Paying It Forward
Alumni/Student Mentoring Program Provides Opportunity for Susan Maier Davis ’85 to impact nursing students
Mentoring current Wilkes nursing students is a cause for celebration for Susan Maier Davis’ 85 – a celebration of her mentees’ success.
“There is no greater feeling than hearing the excitement in their voices when they call to tell you they passed the boards and became an RN, got their first job as an RN or ‘survived their first night’ as a charge nurse,” says Davis, who is senior vice president of operations for SMV Management Co., and a veteran nursing executive. “I could not be more proud of their success and know that each of them will continue to make a positive impact in the lives they touch as well.”
For the past three years, Davis has been part of the Wilkes experience for nursing students who have participated in the University’s alumni/student mentoring program. The initiative, which was established in 2009, aims to provide meaningful relationships between alumni and students and prepare these students for the professional world. Alumni and students matched via the mentoring program interact a minimum of four times each semester. This can be done in person or via phone calls or email. Students are required to complete assignments related to their interactions with their mentor. The alumni office sponsors mixers to introduce alumni and mentees and the meetings may be arranged via Skype or Facetime if mentors live too far to attend in person.
According to Davis, being a mentor is “the ability to positively touch and make a difference in the life of a student. For me, it is making an investment in the future of nursing by helping the next generation of nurses be successful through shared opportunities of learning and growth together.”
Davis’s current mentee, Gina Lemoncelli, a junior nursing major from Scott Township, Pa., describes their relationship: “I have learned from Susan that the sky is the limit. She has shown me that anything is possible in nursing and the opportunities available to someone are endless.”
Davis says that she became a mentor because she appreciates the strong education she received at Wilkes and is grateful for the mentors who gave her advice. She cites Lee Terry from the English department and Jan Steelman from the nursing department for their roles. She credits Terry with igniting a passion for learning that ultimately prepared her for the rigors of graduate school. She recalls Steelman’s ability to teach her students how to think critically and use the nursing process to care for patients with dignity and respect.
“When you mentor a student, you will have the chance to use the knowledge, skills and experience that you learned at Wilkes and professionally to help impact the life of a student in ways that will be invaluable for both of you. Being a mentor gives me the chance to ‘pay it forward’ and act as a coach to help students develop skills, meet their goals and maximize their potential with confidence,” she says.
Carly Cappello ’13, one of Davis’s former mentees, echoes her belief in “paying it forward.” “I am definitely hoping to mentor a student in my future. They are at such a critical time in their lives where they still need guidance…,” Cappello says.
Davis notes that she also benefits from the relationships she develops with her students. “Mentoring is not a one-way relationship. My mentees have helped my knowledge grow as well by sharing thoughts on new graduate programs, technology and changes in the nursing program at Wilkes. They inspire me with their enthusiasm, dedication and passion towards nursing and their drive to be the best nurses possible.”
Susan Maier Davis MS, RN, CRRN ’85, Laurel, Md.
Senior Vice President of Operations, SMV Management Company LLC
Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Wilkes
Master’s Degree in Health Care Administration, University of Maryland, University College